An Indianapolis 500 Like No Other

Tony Kanaan got to celebrate his first Indianapolis 500 victory on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (IndyCar Photo)
Tony Kanaan got to celebrate his first Indianapolis 500 victory on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (IndyCar Photo)

SPEEDWAY, Ind. – It was an Indianapolis 500 like no other and it began the moment NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski walked into Gasoline Alley at 8 a.m. dressed in a blue sport coat and sunglasses along with his father Bob.

“It’s an early Father’s Day present for my Dad,” Keselowski said. “It’s the Indianapolis 500. It’s a fun race. Being a driver and coming here for the first time who wouldn’t want to drive in this race?

“The 500 is a brand-new experience. I’ve been fortunate enough to run the Nationwide and Cup races here; I got a win on the Nationwide side and would like to get a win on the Cup side. Hopefully we can do that in August. I want to experience the IndyCar life here and see what it’s all about and how this race plays out. I’m really excited to be here. This is my first Indy 500. I’m here soaking in one of the biggest races of the year with one of the best guys here, Roger Penske (his NASCAR car owner). I am with my dad and crew chief Paul Wolfe. This is quite an experience already. I plan to be in the pits if they don’t kick me out. I have to leave a little early to make sure we get to Charlotte in time for the race.”

Keselowski put a new spin on doing the “Double.” He watched the Indianapolis 500 from the start until 2 p.m. when he boarded the team plane and flew back to Charlotte to compete in the Coca-Cola 600.

“That counts as a double, right?” Keselowski asked. “I’m just glad to have the experience more so than anybody else. To have my dad here is great for him. It’s one of those things where I really enjoy being here and soaking in the experience but I much more enjoying watching my dad enjoy the experience.

“This is like going to the World Series with the New York Yankees. Just to be at the Indy 500 is awesome. To be at the Indy 500 with Roger Penske is another level.”

Also in the Keselowski entourage was Paul Wolfe, his crew chief for the No. 2 Ford in NASCAR.

“I’m trying to take it all in and how the garages are set up and how the teams work together unlike in NASCAR,” Keselowski said. “I’ve never been to an IndyCar race before so be able to come to Indy and be part of Penske Racing and hang out with RP is an honor for me and an experience of a lifetime. You get so focused on our NASCAR world every day it’s neat to have an opportunity to experience another form of racing that is such a huge event. Even in NASCAR we followed the Indy 500 when I was growing up. I’m excited about the experience today and we’ll get back to business later on tonight.”

It was an Indy 500 like no other as the record for lead changes was doubled from the previous record of 34 to a whopping 68 lead changes on Sunday. Kanaan set a new record winning speed at 187.433 mph, breaking the previous mark of 185.981 set by Arie Luyendyk in 1990. Luyendyk held the record winning speed for the longest period in race history, 23 years.

“Great job by all the drivers,” said INDYCAR Vice President of Technology Will Phillips. “Fantastic racing out there. It’s very difficult that close to the end for it to end under yellow. Great job by all of them. Fantastic finish. Shame it wasn’t under green but who is to say the result we had wouldn’t have been the same under green?

“Fantastic for TK. The amount of work he does for the sport and for the good of IndyCar he deserved a win here today.”